11 Small Towns in Tennessee That You Should Definitely Visit

What's better than visiting a charming little town? Nothing, that's what. Check out our favorite small towns to visit in Tennessee.

11 Small Towns in Tennessee That You Should Definitely Visit Close
Page Summary

11 Small Towns in Tennessee That You Should Definitely Visit

Posted by Gary Ashton on Thursday, May 30th, 2024 at 12:21pm.

Best Small Towns in Tennessee: Charming Tennessee Towns to Visit

The Volunteer State boasts a treasure trove of charming small towns, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains to the banks of the Cumberland River, these towns provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life while remaining accessible to many of the top things to do in Tennessee. Whether you seek outdoor adventure, a taste of Southern hospitality, or a glimpse into the past, Tennessee's small towns will captivate you.

Cookeville: A Foodie and Fitness Paradise

Cookeville is a vibrant town catering to food enthusiasts and fitness fans just 80 miles east of Downtown Nashville. The town boasts a diverse culinary scene, with restaurants offering various cuisines, from classic Southern fare to international flavors.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Cookeville's proximity to Cummins Falls State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park, and Burgess Falls State Park provides ample opportunities for hiking, swimming, and exploring nature's wonders. The town is also known for its "fiction" destination status, hosting fitness retreats and events yearly.

Cookeville is home to Tennessee Tech University, a significant employer. The town also has a thriving healthcare industry and numerous local businesses. Cookeville offers affordability relative to the cost of living in Tennessee, with median home prices around $280,000.

Franklin: A Civil War Town with Modern Charm

Aerial View of Franklin, TN Main Street

Just south of Nashville, Franklin offers a unique blend of history and modern amenities. The town played a significant role in the Civil War, and its well-preserved historic sites provide a glimpse into that tumultuous era.

Today, Downtown Franklin serves as the charming hub of a thriving community filled with boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, and farm-to-table restaurants. The town's proximity to Nashville makes it a popular choice for those seeking a suburban lifestyle with easy access to big-city amenities.

In our experience, Franklin is known for its schools, neighborhoods, and atmosphere. However, living costs are higher than in other small towns; homes in Franklin typically list from the $400s to $1 million. Franklin’s luxury homes, the top end of which include some of the most expensive homes in Tennessee, come with price tags ranging from $1.2 million to more than $50 million. 

Significant employers in Franklin include Nissan North America, healthcare providers, and corporate headquarters.

Granville: A Step Back in Time

Granville is a living history village that takes visitors on a journey back to the 19th century. The town features over 100 preserved buildings, including a working gristmill, a general store, and a blacksmith shop. Visitors can explore the village on guided tours, witness demonstrations of traditional crafts, and even stay overnight in a historic house.

Granville is located on the banks of the fun-filled Cumberland River, offering scenic views and opportunities for boating, fishing, and other water activities. The town's peaceful atmosphere and slower pace of life make it an ideal escape from the stresses of modern living. However, it retains proximity to the big city, at just 65 miles from Nashville and just 30 miles from the town of Hartsville.

Granville has a very affordable cost of living and limited housing options. The town has several small businesses, artisans, and local shops.

Townsend: The Peaceful Side of the Smokies

Townsend is a Tiny Town Near the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee

Townsend, nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains near the city of Knoxville, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Townsend's proximity to the park offers endless opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding on some of the best trails in Tennessee.

A unique attraction in Townsend is the Tuckaleechee Caverns, a breathtaking underground world of stalactites and stalagmites formed over thousands of years. On guided tours, explore the caverns and marvel at the natural wonders beneath the earth.

Townsend is an attractive option for those seeking a slower pace of life and a strong sense of community. The cost of living is generally lower than in larger cities, and there is a range of housing options available. Significant employers include tourism-related businesses, local shops, and restaurants. The median home price in Townsend is around $400,000, but prices can vary depending on the size and location of the property.

Bell Buckle: A Quaint Victorian Village

Bell Buckle, a picturesque Victorian village, transports visitors in time with its well-preserved 19th-century homes, churches, and charming downtown square. The town's slower pace of life and friendly atmosphere make it an ideal escape from the stresses of modern life.

While it’s located an hour’s drive south of Nashville, it’s a mere 20 miles from the rapidly growing Murfreesboro community—one of Nashville’s best suburbs. Bell Buckle hosts several festivals annually, including the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival, a quirky celebration of two Southern staples. The festival features live music, food vendors, and a parade, attracting visitors from near and far.

Bell Buckle is a haven for antique lovers, with numerous shops lining the streets. The town also boasts a vibrant arts scene, with local artisans showcasing their work in galleries and studios. Living in Bell Buckle is affordable, with median home prices around $200,000.

Jonesborough: Tennessee's Oldest Town

Aerial View of Jonesborough, TN Main Street

Jonesborough, founded in 1779, proudly holds the title of Tennessee's oldest town. Steeped in history, Jonesborough offers a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved historic buildings, museums, and cultural institutions.

Jonesborough's charm lies in its vibrant arts and culture scene. The town is known as the Storytelling Capital of the World, and its International Storytelling Center hosts the annual National Storytelling Festival, which attracts storytellers and listeners from around the globe. Immerse yourself in the rich oral traditions of Appalachia and discover the power of storytelling.

Jonesborough boasts a friendly and welcoming community with a lower cost of living than larger cities. The town offers a mix of housing options, including historic homes and newer constructions, with median home prices around $250,000. Significant employers include museums, cultural institutions, local businesses, and tourism-related enterprises.

Tellico Plains: An Outdoor Enthusiast's Haven

Tellico Plains, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The town offers many recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and camping. The Cherohala Skyway, a scenic byway that winds through the mountains, provides breathtaking views and access to numerous trails and waterfalls.

Tellico Plains has a rich history and culture, with Cherokee heritage evident in the local landmarks and traditions. The town also boasts a thriving arts community, with galleries and studios showcasing the works of local artists. With a lower living cost than larger cities, Tellico Plains is an attractive option for those seeking a rural lifestyle.

Lynchburg: Home of Jack Daniel's Distillery

Aerial View of Lynchburg, TN

Lynchburg, a small town with a big reputation, is the birthplace of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. The Jack Daniel's Distillery, a National Historic Landmark, offers tours and tastings, giving visitors a glimpse into the whiskey-making process.

Aside from its whiskey heritage, Lynchburg boasts a quaint downtown area with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. The town's friendly atmosphere and Southern hospitality make it a welcoming destination for visitors of all ages, and its relative proximity to Davidson County makes it a great day trip for those living in the Nashville area.

The cost of living in Lynchburg is reasonable, with various housing options available, from historic homes to newer constructions. The median home price in Lynchburg is around $250,000. The Jack Daniel's Distillery is the largest employer in the area, but the town also has several small businesses and tourism-related enterprises.

Collierville: A Charming Town Square

Collierville, located just east of Memphis, is a charming town with a historic town square listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town square features a variety of shops, restaurants, and historical landmarks, including the Morton Museum of Collierville History. Collierville is a calm community with numerous parks, recreational facilities, and community events throughout the year. 

The cost of living in Collierville is moderate, with a mix of housing options available to fit different budgets. Significant employers include FedEx, healthcare providers, and local businesses. The median home price in Collierville is around $400,000.

Gatlinburg: A Mountain Resort Town

Gatlinburg TN Has Loads of Things to Do

Gatlinburg, nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning natural beauty and many attractions. The town is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering easy access to hiking trails, scenic drives, and other outdoor activities.

Gatlinburg boasts a vibrant entertainment scene, with Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort and Amusement Park, and numerous other attractions catering to visitors of all ages. The town also has many restaurants, shops, and lodging options, from cozy cabins to luxurious resorts, and it’s just 35 miles from Knoxville, one of the best cities in Tennessee.

In our experience, Gatlinburg's popularity comes at a price. Living costs are higher than in other small towns, and traffic can be heavy during peak tourist season. However, the town's stunning scenery, exciting attractions, and diverse amenities make it a worthwhile destination for those seeking a mountain getaway.

Dickson: Southern Charm in Middle Tennessee

Dickson, Tennessee, is a quintessential small town that embodies the charm and warmth often associated with the American South. The town boasts a rich history, with landmarks such as the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum, which offers a glimpse into Dickson's past as a bustling railroad hub. Homes in Dickson typically list from the $200s to $1 million, making it an affordable option in the Nashville area. 

The town's historic downtown area is lined with quaint shops, local eateries, and beautifully preserved buildings, creating a picturesque setting that attracts tourists and fosters a tight-knit community atmosphere. Dickson County is located just east of Nashville, so residents are able to easily commute to the large economic and cultural hub.

Moreover, Dickson's natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities make it a standout destination in Tennessee. The town is home to Montgomery Bell State Park, a sprawling oasis of forests, lakes, and hiking trails that provide endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it's fishing, boating, or simply enjoying a picnic by the lake, the park offers something for everyone. This perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and community spirit makes Dickson one of the best small towns in Tennessee.

Your Tennessee Adventure Awaits!

With its diverse array of small towns, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Tennessee is a state that truly has something for everyone. Whether you're seeking outdoor adventure, a taste of Southern hospitality, or proximity to Tennessee’s best state parks, you will find a town that captures your heart and imagination.

Don't wait any longer – start planning your Tennessee adventure today! Research these towns further, reach out to local experts, and embark on a journey that will lead you to the hidden gems of the Volunteer State.

Ready to move to the great state of Tennessee? Call The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage with Nashville's MLS at (615) 603-3602 to talk with a real estate agent who can help you find your dream Tennessee home.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

Leave a Comment